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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Interlok dan Kesannya

New air raids hit Libyan oil city

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have launched new air raids on the oil city of Ras Lanuf and are closing in on the western town of Az Zawiyah.

Fresh reports of rockets landing on Ras Lanuf came on Wednesday, with Al Jazeera's correspondent there saying there was intense fighting taking place between rebels and the government's fighter jets.

"What we are hearing is intense and repeated attacks by Gaddafi's airplanes on the rebels," Jacky Rowland said.
Read more of our Libya coverage

"The air force is concentrating on the big junctions at the entrance to the town. The opposition fighters are extremely panicked."

She said the oil facility there had been hit in three places.

"There are huge plumes of smoke leaping into the air. We can see mortar fire from Gaddafi troops and the rebels are firing rockets towards the west."

Khaled Kwafi, a member of the opposition forces based on the outskirts of Ras Lanuf, told Al Jazeera that people were killed and injured in the attack.

"An hour ago we saw warplanes in the sky. We heard very huge explosions and lots of smoke. Our people tried to go there but they were stopped," he said.

"We heard there are people killed and injured there."

Rebels under pressure

In addition to attacks in Ras Lanuf, forces loyal to Gaddafi launched a bombardment near rebel positions around the east Libyan oil terminal of Sidrah on Wednesday, blowing up storage tanks at the facility.

Rebels retaliated by firing back with rockets as a fireball exploded from one of the oil tanks and the sky above the terminal filled with black smoke.

Clashes were also reported from the coastal town of Bin Jawad, where a witness told Reuters that the Libyan military was using "gunboats" against opposition forces. Other witnesses reported seeing warplanes bomb oil facilities.

The Libyan government claimed it has taken back Bin Jawad after heavy shelling there.

Az Zawiyah has been the focus of repeated battles between pro- and anti-government forces. Late on Wednesday, a witness told Reuters that rebels had retaken the town square, after being driven from it earlier in the day. The Gaddafi government disputed that claim, saying that it had retaken the town.

The claims cannot be independently verified, as the government has refused journalists access to the city, despite promises to conduct a tour.

A doctor told Reuters the earlier offensive had left many bodies lying in the streets, with at least 40 people said to have been killed.

They said bodies were lying unrecovered in the ruins of many buildings destroyed in air raids earlier in the week and there was no one in the streets of the centre.

"We can see the tanks. The tanks are everywhere," a rebel fighter told Reuters by phone from inside the city.

One doctor there said that at least forty people were killed in the day's fighting.

Gaddafi himself remains as defiant as ever, saying the Libyan people will take up arms if western powers get involved in events in Libya.

On Wednesday, three of his private planes left Tripoli. At least one of them, carrying a high-ranking official for talks with the head of the Arab League, landed in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

Gaddafi blames foreigners

Earlier, in his second televised speech in as many days, Gaddafi once again alleged involvement of foreigners in the rebellion against his more than 41-year-old rule.

In an address on state TV early on Wednesday he warned of a plot to colonise Libya. As proof, he said his security forces had captured several foreigners during a raid on Monday.

"Yesterday, the mosque that the security forces regained power over, they had in this mosque, they had

weapons and alcohol as well. Some of them come from Afghanistan, some of them come from Egypt, some of them come from Algeria, just to misguide our children," Gaddafi said.

His address followed an offer by the rebels, granting him a safe exit.

"If he leaves Libya immediately, during 72 hours, and stops the bombardment, we as Libyans will step back from pursuing him for crimes," Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of the opposition National Council, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

"Conditions are that firstly he stops all combat in the fields, secondly that his departure is within 72 hours; thirdly we may waive our right of domestic prosecution ... for the crimes of oppression, persecution, starvation and massacres," Jalil said.

The offer came amid reports that Gaddafi had sent feelers to the opposition movement, expressing willingness to negotiate his exit.

Unconfirmed reports indicated that Gaddafi was willing to step down in return for having war crimes charges against him dropped and a guaranteed safe exit for him and his family.

He also reportedly wanted guarantees from the UN that he will be allowed to keep his money.

Libyan state television has, however, denied the reports. An official from the Libyan foreign ministry described the reports as "absolute nonsense".

Hoda Abdel-Hamid, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the eastern city of Benghazi, said she was hearing conflicting accounts of what happened.

"The head of the opposition National Council says there were indirect talks with people from Tripoli, who were given the green light from the regime," she said. "But the spokesman for the National Council denies any of that."

Source:Al Jazeera and agencies

HRP appeals to India P.M & 3 C.Ms’ to stop RM 45.48 Billion infrastructure projects & contracts to Malay-sian companies on DPM Muhyiddin’s visit to India.



clip_image002
NO.6, Jalan Abdullah, Off Jalan Bangsar, 59000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: 03-2282 5241 Fax: 03-2282 5245
Website: www.humanrightspartymalaysia.com Email:info@humanrightspartymalaysia.com
Date: 9/3/2011
His Excellency Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister Of India
South Block, Raisina Hill, Fax : 91-11-23019545
New Delhi ,
Indian – 110101
His Excellency Shri Narendra Modi
Chief Minister Of Gujarat
1st Block, 5th Floor, Fax : 079-23222101
New Sachivalaya E-Mail: cm@gujaratindian.com
Ghandinagar
His Excellency Shri M.Karunanidhi Chief Minister of Tamilnadu
Chief Minister’s Office Fax: 044-25671441 Secretariat, Chennai 600009 Email: cmcell@tn.gov.in
His Excellency Shri Kiran Kumar Reddy
Chief Minister of Andra Pradesh
‘C’ Block, Fax : 04023452498
6th Floor, AP Secretariat Email: cmap@ap.nic.in
Madam Susma Swaraj
Opposition Leader,India 8, Safdarjung Lane,
New Delhi –110011
Email:sushmaswaraj@hotmail.com
Your Excellencies,
Re: 1) Persecution of minority Indians in Malaysia from womb to tomb .
2) Last week alone 53 minority Malaysian Indians prosecuted for staging peaceful Hindraf Rally – three years jail.
3) Appeal to mother India to deny Malaysian companies the RM 45.48 Billion infrastructure jobs in India & diplomatic engagements.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
We refer to the above matter.
An eight member delegation from Hindraf and HRP attended the Pravasi Bharathiya Divas Conference in New Delhi from the 7th to 9th of January 2011 where we had for the third successive year (and this year) submitted our “Malaysian Indian Minority & Human Rights Violations Annual report 2011”. This report outlining the persecution from womb to tomb of the mere 8% Indian minority in Malaysia was forwarded personally at a meeting with the Indian Overseas Affairs Minister Mr. Vylavar Ravi at his office, Prime Minister’s Office and the Indian External Affairs Minister. Kindly visit www.humanrightspartymalaysia.com for the current day to day documentation of the Malaysian state sponsored racism and religious extremism. On a people to people basis we have very little problems.
Within four days last week alone (1/3/11 to 4/3/11) some 53 Hindraf activists were prosecuted after some 300 (official figures being 109) were arrested for staging a peaceful assembly championing Human and Indian minority rights near KLCC the World’s Tallest Twin Towers.
We hereby appeal that the RM 45.48 Billion infrastructure projects in Gujrat, Tamil Nadu and Andra Pradesh India (NST 9/3/2011 at page 4) is not granted to Malaysian companies during the current visit of our Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to India unless and until the persecution and prosecution of the poor and defenceless Indian minority in Malaysia is immediately stopped by the racist and religious supremacist UMNO led Malaysian government, the world’s most racist and religious supremacist regime and the world’s only remaining apartheid regime after the same ended in South Africa in 1989 but which has been very successfully hidden to the world.
We also hope your goodselves could diplomatically eengage Malaysia on a government basis.
We hereby also request for an urgent appointment for a meeting with your goodselves.
If we cannot appeal to Mother India where else can we go to.
Mother India please help us.
Thank you,
Yours faithfully,
……………….
P. Uthayakumar
Secretary General (pro tem)
+6013-3504711
c.c Shri Avinash Rai Khanna
Member of Parliament Rajya Sabha
202, Brahmputra Apartment,
Dr. B.D. Marg,
New Delhi
c.c Sudhir Aggarwal
National Convenor
Human Rights Cell Fax : 911123005787
BJP Email: sudhirkural@yahoo.com
11, Ashok Road,
New Delhi – 110001
c.c Vivek Goyal
Advocate Additional General Punjab
Suite No. 3,
Legal Cell, Email: vivekgoyaladv@hotmail.com
Punjab Bhawan
Copernicus Marg
New Delhi – 110001
New Scan-20110309150809-00001

Interlok: School asked to submit report

The school embroiled in controversy over the Interlok novel has been directed to submit a report over the incident in which a teacher allegedly uttered a racial slur against ethnic Indian students in the school.

An officer at the Hulu Selangor district education department (PPD), Mat Jah Roslan, said the authorities at the SMK Kuala Kubu Bharu will have by the end of the day today make the report ready for purposes of further investigation by the department.

The report will be prepared by the school principal as well as the teacher concerned, Mat Jah told Malaysiakini when contacted yesterday.

“We are in the midst of trying to determine the causes of the incident, which quarters (are responsible). This is because each of the parties concerned are not satisfied.

"We need to scrutinise the actual facts and in a clearer context," he said further.

In the incident, three Form Five students were on Monday taken to the Kuala Kubu Baru district police headquarters and questioned for 10 hours after they had gone to the principal on Friday last week with the purpose of returning their copies of the novel Interlok.

This happened after a group of them wanted to return the book because they were not happy with its contents, but were stopped by a discipline teacher who allegedly abused them verbally.

Commenting further on the matter, Mat Jah said as the incident had been widely reported in the media, the district education department as well as the Education Ministry want to know the facts behind the episode.

"They've asked the district education department. That's why we need clarification from those involved," said Mat Jah.

It was reported yesterday that Hulu Selangor MP P Kamalanathan has also stepped into the affair to expedite its resolution.

Dr M book puts Anwar’s credibility at stake

Despite offering no proof to back his claims, Dr Mahathir’s book is still expected to sway the neutrals. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s latest claims of sexual misconduct by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in his memoirs has forced Pakatan Rakyat (PR) into a “perception war” over the latter’s credibility as prime minister-in-waiting. PR leaders said they have their work cut out to negate the former prime minister’s accusations in his autobiography that hit bookshelves this week.
In it, he wrote that Anwar had propositioned four girls for sex and not denied accusations of sodomy before being sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998.
Still licking its wounds from the twin defeats in Merlimau and Kerdau on Sunday by increased majorities, PR now has to reckon with the influential former prime minister’s efforts to “hammer in another nail in the coffin” of the opposition pact.

The latest claims will add to Anwar’s headaches. — Reuters pic
“That’s the reason he is doing this, just to add to all the other accusations against Anwar, trying to hammer another nail in the coffin,” said PAS political bureau member Khalid Samad. “Dr Mahathir knows that Anwar is the glue in PR. By attacking Anwar and destroying him, it is as good as destroying PR,” DAP Youth chief Anthony Loke said.
Anwar is deep in the middle of a second sodomy trial while the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) has dismissed the PKR de facto leader as irrelevant after PR’s dismal performance in the twin by-elections.
“Dr Mahathir is very influential and what he says is very influential. We have witnessed how he attacked his predecessor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and the kind of repercussions it had for Barisan Nasional .
“His stories today will create confusion among the people and paint a negative image of Anwar so soon, we are in for a perception war,” said Rasah MP Loke.
“He is trying to damage Anwar’s credibility as an Islamic leader with charges of sexual misconduct. It is quite obvious that these are sensitive issues for Malays,” Khalid added.
Both Loke and Shah Alam MP Khalid said that despite the lack of proof, many will still swallow Dr Mahathir’s words whole.
“As it is coming from him, it will definitely create a perception, whether it is true or not. Perception matters very much in politics,” Loke said.
“Some will think, because Dr M said it, it must be true,” Khalid said of the allegations made in the book entitled, “A Doctor in the House: The Memoirs of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.”
PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution said the claims by Dr Mahathir, PM from 1981 to 2003, would have an effect on fence sitters who were still undecided on whether Anwar had committed such acts.
Loke said PR would now have to go all-out to clear Anwar’s name, particularly with urbanites who were likely to read Dr Mahathir’s memoirs.
“We must go on the offensive. We need to explain. We need to engage more with the public,” he said.
Machang MP Saifuddin said that the main targets were those between the ages of 21 to 25, too young during Anwar’s first run-in with sodomy charges in 1998 to have been aware of the entire story.
Although Anwar was jailed for corruption and sodomy, he was freed in 2004 after the Federal Court overturned the sodomy conviction.
Parit Buntar MP Mujahid Yusof Rawa agreed that Dr Mahathir’s political influence and “powerful words” would likely impact his readers greatly despite the lack of evidence to prove his claims against Anwar.
“On a whole, people go for sensational issues. The Malaysian society is not a mature one as it exists in full awe of sensational issues.
“Many do not care if the stories are true or false and writers like Dr Mahathir truly impact his readers,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
He said that PR would have to accept that it is in a perception war with BN even if it was an unfair fight over the ruling government’s control over media access.

BN reps claim rare earth plant no threat to Kuantan


Various rare earth samples are shown in this undated handout image. — Reuters


KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 — Local Barisan Nasional (BN) assemblymen in the Kuantan area said today that a rare earth refinery now being built there will not be hazardous to the environment or the health of nearby residents.

The MCA duo of Pang Tsu Ming (Semambu) and Chang Hong Seong (Teruntum) said they had been initially concerned about radioactive effects from the plant owned by Australian mining company Lynas Corporation.

However, they changed their minds after attending a briefing arranged by the company during a visit to one of its mines in Mount Weld, Australia at the end of 2009.

The two now say they are convinced that the facility will not be a danger to their constituencies.

According to Pang, they were briefed by scientists — including one from Russia, whom he did not name — on how “even some granite stone has higher radiation” than the rare earth found in Mount Weld.

Rare earth metals, of which China has a 95 per cent control on global supply, are crucial to high technology products such as Apple’s iPhone, the Toyota Prius and Boeing’s smart bombs.

Pang added that he was shown tests that said amang (tailings from tin mining) had higher levels of radiation than the Mount Weld rare earth.

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that Lynas was beginning work on the plant to produce metals possibly worth over RM5 billion a year in Kuantan. This comes two decades after protests forced Mitsubishi Chemicals to close down a rare earth plant near Ipoh due to environmental damage — damage which it is still trying to clean up today.

Mitsubishi’s Bukit Merah Asian Rare Earth plant, which has been blamed for eight cases of leukaemia in the area, was reportedly undergoing a stealthy US$100 million (RM303 million) cleanup exercise despite shutting down in 1992.

However, Chang said that the two cases should not be compared as the radiation from the Mount Weld rare earth was not as hazardous as the metals processed in Bukit Merah.

Pang said he was told the Mount Weld ore would require direct exposure of “days, if not months” before any ill effects to one’s health.

He added that “we would not pursue economic development at the expense of the environment and people’s health.”

In its report, the New York Times also quoted Raja Datuk Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan, the director-general of the Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board, as saying the project was only approved after an inter-agency review.

He said the report indicated that the imported ore and subsequent waste would have low enough levels of radioactivity to be manageable and safe.

However, toxicologist Dr. Jayabalan A. Thambyappa, who has treated leukaemia victims whose illnesses he and others have attributed to the Mitsubishi plant, maintains that exposure to such material remains hazardous due to their carcinogenic nature.

Rare earths, a group of 17 elements found near the bottom of the periodic table, are not radioactive themselves.

But virtually every rare earth ore deposit around the world contains, in varying concentrations, a slightly radioactive element called thorium.

‘Faulty’ MyKads leaves Sabahans wondering

The much touted technology used in the MyKad chip may not be so 'sophisticated' afterall.

By Thomas Pi

SANDAKAN: The reliability of the MyKad as an identification document has come under increasing scrutiny and criticism by citizens.

The microchip implanted identity card, touted as a sophisticated technology, has been found to be faulty and unreadable by security devices.

While increasing incidences of scams and bank fraud around the country has made the ID card indispensable at all bank transactions, verification services have been unreliable.

Most complaints being received are those of ‘unreadability’ by some machines, resulting in troublesome delays for many seeking banking services.

Prominent Lahad Datu businessman Tham Shao Tong is among its critics. He was among those who claimed to be a ‘victim of sophisticated technology.’

Recalling an incident, Tham said he had gone to the bank to withdraw RM150 using his bankbook but was told that his MyKad was faulty.

As such he was denied the money and told to go to National Registration Department (NRD) to check or replace his ID card.

He was told that his MyKad could not be read by the bank machine.

The bank also denied that its card reader was faulty as it could verify the details and information implanted in the chip on other MyKads without a hitch.

Helpless

In Kota Kinabalu, a journalist said he encountered the same problem and was denied service.

“I had to go to another branch and fortunately it worked.”

In Sandakan, bank officer Jaafar said the bank was helpless when such incidents happened.

“It happens quite often … customers blame us for not being able to get any banking services but we can’t do anything if their ID card cannot be read by our machine. This is not our fault, it’s the NRD’s fault,” he said.

Another MyKad holder who preferred to remain anonymous said her card could not be read at the Kota Kinabalu Airport and at the EPF machines but was told by NRD when she went to their office to verify the card, that it was fine.

However, on returning to the EPF office, the officers there said they could still not verify her details as the thumbprint on her card could not be read.

Many point out that ATM, debit and credit cards, which also use microchips, do not have such problems despite having been used by card holders for so many years.

They say the government should first ensure there are not faults in the MyKad before implementing the use of it nationwide.

The fine imposed to replace a ‘lost’ MyKad is RM300, double that for a second replacement and so on.

Unbearable pain behind suicides

According to the World Health Organisation, suicide rates all over the world have increased from 5% to 62% in the last 20 years and Malaysia has not been spared.


Jake (not his real name) was born with his amniotic sac intact. As an old wives’ tale goes, a baby born in what’s called a “caul” will never find death by sea.
Of his siblings, Jake was closest to his parents, the middle child who loved to hear the tale of how he came into the world. As a child Jake was mischievous and enjoyed wreaking havoc with his older sister and he always took the blame.
He was the “good buddy” to his friends who had fallen on hard times. Jake married in 1987, became a father to a beautiful baby girl. He now had everything he wanted in life but Jake never figured out how to hold on to it. He and his wife eventually divorced.
Jake remarried and after bouts of missing work, he lost his job. His mother was there to help him pick up the pieces. Only this time, she was not enough. He also had not seen his daughter for years. At first, Jake seemed to do well, finding a good job and reconnecting with his second wife, but his spirit was broken.
Three days before his 38th birthday, Jake was sent to San Francisco on a business trip. Later that day, he made his way to the Golden Gate Bridge and threw himself off. This is a true account shared by a sister whose brother committed suicide.
While stories of suicides may differ, what remains constant is the reason behind it – unbearable pain. (Read more at http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/d/depression/intro.htm?ktrack=kcplink.)
According to the Malaysian Psychiatric Association (MPA), depression is often thought of as experiencing feelings of sadness, “having the blues”, or being disheartened.
Its website notes that there is, however, a major difference between having normal feelings of sadness in reaction to a situation such as a death in the family, and having depression which intensifies to the point that they interfere with your ability to function normally and leading to suicidal thoughts.
The recent spate of suicide reports and the increasingly worrying sociopathic trends in Malaysia have compelled FMT to speak to counsellor Johana Johari, of My Confidential about why people commit suicide and how to help decrease the statistics.
What are the common misconceptions about suicides/suicidal people?
Many of us are unfairly profiled in reference to suicide methods in Malaysia based on what we read in the media. We think the Chinese commit suicide because of gambling, financial and unrequited love issues, the Indians do it to get out of a forced marriage and because of a broken heart and the Malays do it because of love problems.
There are also some people who believe in reincarnation and think that by dying in this life that is going badly for them, there will be an opportunity to be reborn into a new life with a fresh start.
Why in your opinion do people commit suicide?
It is a cry for help. Suicidal people often feel terribly isolated. Because of their distress, they may not think of anyone they can turn to, furthering this isolation. Most suicidal people give warning signs in the hope that they will be rescued. They are intent on stopping their emotional pain, not on dying.
Could you elaborate on this ‘feeling of isolation’?
Many people experience feeling alone every now and then. Some people go through it even in the presence of their friends, family members and partners.
But when sadness, emptiness and misery are present all the time it will make you feel really lonely. It’s like you are at a different place, so alone and isolated from everyone else and nobody seems to care about your existence.
In a society such as ours, being gay – or at least admitting to being one will result in the person coming under a lot of fire. How do they cope with this?
Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) and questioning youths are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, according to the Massachusetts 2006 Youth Risk Survey.
As for how they cope, well, many of them stick to their own. They socialise in a closed circle of people who make them feel accepted. This gives them a sense of belonging, the freedom to be themselves and not pretend to be someone they are not.
Could you address the issue of suicides from gay bashing?
The first thing everyone needs to understand is this – homosexuality is not about sex. It’s about identity.
I conducted a group counselling session for a group of gay men in 2002 and I realised that all they want to be is themselves.
Certain quarters who found out I was conducting this session asked me, “You counsel gays? Do you straighten them out?”
People are so judgemental. We have certain ideas and ideals that we impose on others. Gay people do not impose (theirs) on others.
I feel it’s my responsibility to say this because it might help someone. We wouldn’t like it if we were persecuted for the way we lived our lives, so why judge others and persecute them?
If we could develop a little more compassion, I think that will help to decrease suicide statistics.
How do telephone counselling and suicide hot-line services work?
When someone speaks to a counsellor, they have to know that they will be accepted and not judged. This is a kind of comfort that awaits them.
When my clients mention suicide, I usually ask them if they are sure it’s going to work and if they are very sure that this is the only way out?
Different services vary in what they offer, but in general you can ring up and speak anonymously to a counsellor about any sort of problems in a no-pressure context that’s less threatening than a face-to-face session.
The most important thing to remember is that if you can’t get through the first time, keep ringing until you get to speak to someone.
Some say suicidal people will never talk or give hints about wanting to die. Others say they do. How will I know if someone is suicidal or not? What are the signs?
Things to watch for when assessing potential risk…
 Remember P.L.A.I.D.
Plan: Do they have one?
Lethality: Is it lethal? Can they die?
Availability: Do they have the means to carry it out?
Illness: Do they have a mental or physical illness?
Depression: Chronic or specific incident(s)?
Always take a person seriously when they discuss suicide.
What are some common myths surrounding suicide?
Myth: Only other people commit suicide. It will not happen to me.
Fact: Everyone has a fleeting thought of ending his/her life in a crisis situation, but not everyone pursues the thought.
Myth: People who talk about suicide do not commit it, but only threaten to do so.
Fact: While a few use the technique of minor degrees of self-injury to draw the attention of people around them, many give early clues at some point.
Myth: A person committing suicide never reveals his/her intention to anyone.
Fact: This is not always true. The majority of people give a clue or warning feeler, sign or an act that should be taken seriously, as a cry for help.
Myth: Only poor people commit suicide.
Fact: Not true. Suicide is not a problem related to class, age or gender.
Myth: Suicide runs in families, so nothing can be done.
Fact: Even though suicide has a biological basis, evidence of a hereditary basis is scientifically lacking.
Myth: Suicidal persons are always mentally ill.
Fact: This again is not entirely true. A large number of people attempting suicide are depressed, unhappy, sad or violent before the act. Many physically and mentally healthy people also commit suicide.
Myth: Asking about suicidal thoughts may precipitate it.
Fact: Asking about suicide does NOT precipitate it. In fact, not asking about suicide may prevent identification of a person at risk for suicide.
Myth: If a person is saved once, there is no need to bother about him later.
Fact: A large number of those who attempt suicide need to be watched carefully over a period of time. There is evidence to show that up to 10% of such people repeat the act.
What would be five things NEVER to say to a suicidal person?
Do not:
• Judge them
• Show anger toward them
• Provoke guilt
• Discount their feelings
• Tell them to ‘snap out of it’
How do I approach someone whom I think is suicidal without sounding offensive?
‘Pretend’ to be a counsellor. Acknowledge and accept their feelings even if they appear distorted.
Be an active listener. Repeat some of their statements to let them know you are listening. For example: “You sound like you’re feeling abandoned. Is this correct?”
Try to give them hope and remind them what they are feeling is temporary, without provoking guilt. Be there for them. Hold them, hug them, touch them. Allow them to show their feelings. If you love them, tell them. Pamper them. Feed them if they are hungry. Help them get some help.
How does suicide affect family and friends?
The effects of suicidal behaviour or completed suicide on friends and family members are often devastating.
Survivors may experience a great range of conflicting emotions about the deceased, feeling everything from intense emotional pain and sadness about the loss to helplessness to prevent it, and a longing for the person they lost.
It can also stir anger at the deceased for taking their own life, especially if the suicide took place after years of physical or mental illness in their loved one.
In what ways are suicidal people a danger to those around them?
It is not the suicidal tendency that is a threat to others. Suicidal thoughts are the results of other factors at play. It may be anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and others.
When these factors, either one or a combination of more than one, goes undiagnosed and untreated, they become weapons that have the potential to harm others around them.
This is a question which many people might have on their minds: “What about me? Am I at risk?”
Anyone who is curious to know whether they are at risk can measure themselves using the Common Suicide Risk Indicators below:
  • A previous suicide attempt, even if it seemed staged or designed to get attention, or boasts of past or secret suicide attempts.
  • Talking about being dead or wishing they were dead, how others would be happier if he/she were dead or how much better off others will be when he/she is gone.
  • Repeatedly engaging in very risky or dangerous thrill-seeking behaviour.
  • “Getting the house in order” – making plans for the care of loved siblings, parents, relatives or pets and giving away cherished belongings to close friends.
  • Extreme mood swings; very depressed episodes followed by happy episodes with no clear reason for the change.
  • Regular expressions of worthlessness, helplessness, sadness and/or loneliness.
  • Drastic changes in habits, friends, or appearance, skipping school, dropping out of favourite activities, and no longer caring about appearance or cleanliness.
  • Changes in weight, sleeping habits, and physical activity.
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, or activities that once gave the person pleasure or a sense of identity.
Some are of the opinion that suicide is a very selfish act, while the person who is contemplating suicide thinks otherwise. What are your thoughts?
Let’s be clear – people who are suicidal do NOT have ego problems. Likely reasons for wanting to die are feelings of absolute worthlessness and thinking about all the pain and trouble they and their mental illness have caused for the people around them.
Sometimes they see suicide as a way to prevent them from doing further harm to their family and acquaintances.
So telling someone who already think they are less than human garbage that they are selfish just gives them one MORE reason to want to die: “I knew I was a horrible person, but now, even worse, I’m selfish too. I’d better take myself out of the equation before I cause even more trouble.”
People who are suicidal are in an unbelievable amount of pain – so much so that death seems the better option than to continue with the pain.
What these people really need is authentic empathy, unconditional positive regard and unconditional acceptance.
For counselling enquiries, please email Johana at johana.myconfidential@gmail.com

Palace rejects Pakatan candidates shortlisted for advisory board

(The Star) - ATEMPTS by Pakatan Rakyat to finally have representation in the Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s Advisory Board hit a snag when the two candidates shortlisted by the Selangor government were rejected by the Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah.
According to a reliable source close to Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, the Sultan did not want political appointees to represent Selangor, but instead wanted qualified professionals with the interest of the people at heart.
The source said this was the reason why there had been a delay in the appointment of Selangor appointees on the City Hall Advisory board.
The previous two Selangor appointees’ term on the board had expired last May 31.

The future of education in multicultural Malaysia

What does 1Malaysia mean, not as an evolving concept that has undergone some kind of dialectical materialistic treatment and the cyclical theory of knowledge (thesis-anti-thesis-synthesis) but a branding, sloganising, hollow-fying concept of forced "oneness" pushed into public discourse and into public sphere?
A REPUBLIC OF VIRTUE
Dr Azly Rahman
Notes on a Roundtable on Education and  Multiculturalism in Malaysia
Dr. Azly Rahman, Speaker
Dr. Lim Teck Ghee, commentator
Dr. Ibrahim Bajunid, moderator
UCSI Multipurpose Hall, UCSI, Cheras, February 24, 2011
Q: Being a multicultural society that Malaysia is, how should our education system be designed? Or, should it be designed at all?

A: Education is a deliberate attempt to construct human beings who will participate in society as productive citizens. The question whether our education system should be designed or not is quite irrelevant when education, schooling, training, indoctrination, and the spectrum of ways by which the child is "schooled" are all based on intentional design.

Schooling is the most contested terrain in any society; it is a battlefield or a conveyor belt for the creation of human beings. We go back one step before the question of design. In a multicultural society, who should be entrusted to design schooling - politicians or philosophers of education trained in the study of political economy and anthropology and alternative historicising?

NONEAre those designing our schooling system equipped with the varieties of philosophical perspectives in education? We have essentialism, progressivism, romanticism, cultural rejuvenation, social reconstructionism, spiritual capitalism, technicism... or even cultural revolution.

These philosophies call for a different perspective of what a human being is and how to draw out the potentials in each and every human being. Hence the Latin word "educare", from which education comes from, meaning "drawing out".

My question for all of you: What philosophy of education will be suitable for a multicultural society such as Malaysia? And how do we translate such a philosophy into praxis (Paulo Freire, "Cultural action for freedom").

Q: T
he current design has created an eco-system wherein parents can choose between national schools, vernacular schools or Islamic schools. Is this healthy for nation building? The older model of primary education was with the strategic intent of laying the foundation for nation-building. Is that agenda now being sacrificed?

A:
Choices emanate from how society has evolved, in this case Malaysia as a capitalist society with choices in education and schooling. We must consider what "nation-building" means in the context of schooling. Nation means one people, from the French scholar Ernst Renan. The kind of nation we want to create depends upon the schools we build.

How does one build an "American" school? It depends on the people's understanding and degree of the embodiment of the constitution of the United States and how America sees itself as a nation of immigrants, wherein schooling that separates religion and the state complicates less the process of "nation-building".

"All men are created equal, endowed by the Creator the inalienable rights ...", says the preamble to the US constitution. Every morning one hears these words in unison, across America in all classrooms, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States and to the republic unto which it stands as one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all..." The meaning of 1Malaysia
What does 1Malaysia mean, not as an evolving concept that has undergone some kind of dialectical materialistic treatment and the cyclical theory of knowledge (thesis-anti-thesis-synthesis) but a branding, sloganising, hollow-fying concept of forced "oneness" pushed into public discourse and into public sphere?

What does a truly Malaysian school mean? Herein lies the evolution of ideological apartheid, especially in our public school system. Where is the locus of control? How are race-based ideological battles fought in this terrain? Herein lies the separate schools Malaysians build.

Q: But, should schools be seen as a tool for nation building at all? Isn't it the "nation-building" agenda that has created a divided society that we have now? Can nation-building not be simply the of sharing national values of some universal form that prepares student for a globalised world?

A:
On schooling and nation-building; this is a question of the post-70s era in which the debates on nationalism, pluralism, socialism, national-socialism or even cosmopolitanism or millennialism rage.
Countries or states were jumping onto the bandwagon of perceiving education from a post-colonial or neo-colonialist lens, arguing for the maintaining the race and ethnicity dimension of social and economic progress.

The creation of the precursor to the BN in the form of the Alliance Party in 1955 and subsequently, the dominance and hegemony of this race-based coalition party has enabled the creation of an education system based on race consideration.

NONEQ: If given a choice, would parents choose schools based on the medium of instruction or would they choose quality? In other words, if choice is given in a multicultural society, would that cause society to break down further?

A: Multiculturalism is not an option, radical multiculturalism as an educational philosophy is even not an option. I may sound like Plato, Kung Fu Tze, Jean Jacques Rousseau or Marx - as "deterministic" - but there is a sense with phenomenological evidence in this country that this society is breaking down and we must seek solutions through education.

Consider these issues as I conclude: The protest over the selected reading Interlok, the rise of NGOs promoting dangerous ultra-nationalism, the suppression of free speech on campuses, the proliferation of indoctrination on campuses through the work of governmental outfits such as Biro Tata Negara, and the list goes on ...

But what is multiculturalism? Broader than what many of us here have conceived: "Many cultures", "many world views", "multiple perspectives", "multiple ways of knowing" - and to bring human beings from a variety of cultures of ability and disability to enable them to reach their fullest potential - the children of all races, physically, emotionally, technologically, emotionally challenged, the culturally deficient, and many more - all these to be brought into the process of being "educated through schooling" so that each may learn, prosper and grow as critical, creative, ethical human beings who will use their knowledge and power to transform others and not to plunder and oppress.

We need to embark on a long-term project of radical education transformation based on radical multiculturalism as our philosophy.

DR AZLY RAHMAN, who was born in Singapore and grew up in Johor Bahru, holds a Columbia University (New York) doctorate in International Education Development and Masters' degrees in the fields of Education, International Affairs, Peace Studies and Communication. He has taught more than 40 courses in six different departments and has written more than 300 analyses on Malaysia. His teaching experience spans Malaysia and the United States, over a wide range of subjects from elementary to graduate education. He currently resides in the United States.

Longing for A Free Mind (Part 1 of 14)

By M. Bakri Musa

[Presented at the Fifth Annual Alif Ba Ta Conference at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ, organized by UMNO Club of New York-New Jersey, January 29, 2011.]
[A nation aspiring for greatness needs leaders with free minds; only they are capable of carving new paths. The Pak Turut (me too) leaders we have today, content merely to regurgitate what had been programmed in them, will at best only maintain the status quo. To elect leaders with free minds, citizens too must be free-minded.]

Let me first congratulate Amer Shukri, President of UMNO Club NY-NJ, and Zaid Nabil, President of the Malaysian Students Association here at Stevens, for organizing this Fifth Annual Alif Ba Ta conference. Despite changes in leadership through graduations and the like that are inherent in organizations like yours, you and your team have demonstrated admirable staying power. I applaud you, especially the hard work of the organizing committee, and thank you for inviting me again.

There are other UMNO Clubs much bigger and more established. At one time the UMNO Club of California counted its members in the hundreds, but the best that they could muster was in organizing gatherings to greet visiting UMNO dignitaries. Those were occasions less for the exchange of ideas, more for ambitious leader wannabes to ingratiate themselves to senior party members. So I congratulate you for putting together a substantive program all these years.

I also applaud you for choosing the bioscience and engineering; you could have chosen an easier path. Earlier, Dr. Waleed quoted a hadidth to the effect that someone who removes a thorn from a road is serving Allah, for that simple deed would prevent others from injuring their feet, which could lead to infection and possible amputation.

Take that hadith further. What if you were to build a road? Imagine the immense good you would do, or stated differently, how much more pleased Allah would be! A mother could now bring her sick baby to the hospital faster; that may mean saving a life. Farmers could bring their produce to market easily and thus improve their livelihoods. Then consider the remarkable improvement in our health that is so frequently attributed to the miracles of my profession. In truth it owes more to the marvels of modern civil engineering like central sewer and water treatment plants. Hence my high regards for engineers!

This year’s theme, “Longing for a Free Mind,” is particularly apt. I am assuming that you are not here referring to the free mind mapping software, a necessary clarification as I am speaking at a technology institute.

A nation aspiring for greatness needs leaders with free minds. We can do without the Pak Turuts (“Yes man”) leaders, content merely with echoing and regurgitating what had been programmed in them, encapsulated in their hallowed phrase, Saya menunggu arahan! (I await directives), or the equally servile Kami menurut perentah! (I follow orders). We cannot aspire to Vision 2020, much less greatness, with such leadership. What we need instead are leaders willing and capable of paving new paths. To elect such leaders we need citizens with free minds.

A free mind can best be illustrated by this story of Mullah Nasaruddin, famed for his effective use of ordinary and often personal examples as teaching materials.

He was cursed with having a neighbor who was fond of borrowing items from him and then conveniently forgetting to return them. One day this neighbor came to the Mullah to borrow his donkey. The Mullah, anticipating the request, had earlier locked the animal away in the barn and out of sight. Upon hearing the request, the Mullah confidently replied that his donkey had been taken earlier by his brother. As the disappointed neighbor turned away, he heard the braying of the donkey. Whereupon he turned around and remarked, “I thought you said your donkey was gone!”

To which the Mullah replied, “Do you believe the braying of a donkey over the words of a Mullah?”

If you can accept that at times a donkey can be the bearer of the truth, and a mullah the purveyor of untruth, then you have a free mind. There are many reasons why we continue believing the mullah despite the donkey braying in our face, and we will explore some of those.

This conference will address “The Malay Mind,” “The Mind of a Muslim,” “Minda Mahasiswa” (The Mind of an Undergraduate), and “The Mind of a Future Leader.” I could add the legal mind and the mind of an economist, for example. To me, regardless what minds we are dealing with, it is far more important that they be free.

This conference’s theme could as well be, “Molding A Merdeka Mind.” It sounds even more stirring in our national language, Mengasoh Minda Merdeka! It is certainly more evocative than Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Hegemony), or even Agama, Bangsa, Negara! (Faith, Race, Country!). More importantly, it is also more constructive. We have been politically free since 1957, but our minds are still not free; we remain entrapped in our old ways. It is time we liberate our minds, granting them their own merdeka (freedom).

Haji Abdul Malik Karim Amrullah, better known as HAMKA, described best what a free mind is with his poem, Nikmat Hidup (Life’s Bounty):

Menahan fikiran aku tak mungkin
Menumpul kalam aku tak kuasa.
Merdeka berfikir gagah perkasa
Berani menyebut yang aku yakin.

My translation:

Censoring ideas is not my deal
Nor putting to rest my writing quill.
Fearless are those who dare to think
And put to words their inner being.

I challenge you to pick among our leaders today those who are Merdeka berfikir (free thinking) gagah perkasa (fearless core).

Merdeka berfikir alone, courageous and laudatory as that may be, is not sufficient. You have to articulate and share your thoughts. It is like a tree falling in the forest; with no one to hear it, will there be any sound? More importantly, will anyone know? Thus you must also have the courage to voice your thoughts – berani menyebut. Today, I am sharing mine with you, at least those present here. By writing I will extend my reach, “one person speaking to many,” in the words of Prameodya Ananta Toer, now and forever. Hamka is long gone but his wisdom lives on through his words.

Writing also imposes a certain discipline. You have to gather, organize and then present your thought in a logical and attractive fashion so as to interest your readers. No such restraints exist with talking. Undisciplined, it can readily degenerate into nonproductive “coffee shop talk.” I hope to avoid that today.

My presentation explores the meaning of a free mind and the associated liberating of entrapped ones. As a physician I am used to viewing problems from the perspective of prevention. Thus I will also discuss the dynamics of the entrapped mind so that we would never find ourselves in that state again. I will review some fascinating studies in neuroscience, and the insights gleaned, in so far as they relate to our understanding of the free mind.

I will conclude by citing examples from our legends and history of individuals with free minds and the remarkable impact they have had on our society. In the remote possibility that you may not readily identify with them, I will share examples of fellow students like you who dared to have free minds and carve their own paths, and contrast them to their contemporaries who were only too willing to menurut perentah. I hope you can draw some useful lessons.

I will end with a “Question and Answer” session.

Death in police custody – S Manimaran (Rembau police station lock-up, 10 Mar 2005)

Six years ago today, 33-year-old police detainee S Manimaran died at the Rembau police station lock-up under dubious circumstances a mere seven hours after he was arrested on suspicion of breaking into a neighbour’s house in Rembau, Negeri Sembilan.

Despite the requirement that all custodial deaths be investigated by inquiries conducted pursuant to Chapter XXXII of the Criminal Procedure Code, it does not appear that an inquest has been conducted into S Manimaran’s death.

Every death in custody must be thoroughly and impartially investigated.  S Manimaran’s death must not be relegated to a mere statistic.

Based on the Royal Malaysia Police’s statistics, 85 persons died in police custody between 2003 and 2007 alone.

We express our heartfelt condolences to S Manimaran’s family and friends on this anniversary of his death.

Malaysia to ratify Rome Statute

The New Straits Times

A MEMORANDUM is to be drafted for the cabinet to approve Malaysia's ratification of the Rome Statute to be party to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said Malaysia had always viewed the ICC positively and it was up to the cabinet to decide on the ratification.

"Last year, when Gaza was under siege, in Parliament, we approved a resolution for Turkey to go to the ICC to prosecute Israel.

"So, we can interpret that our attitude and stand are very positive," he said at the Parliament lobby.

Nazri said the matter was under the Foreign Ministry because the Rome Statute was an international treaty.

"I have discussed with the Foreign Ministry officials, especially our ambassador at large, Datuk Noor Faridah Ariffin, who is in charge of international treaties in the foreign service. She will be briefing the Foreign Ministry and was told that the memorandum will be prepared soon."

Parliament is hosting a two-day seminar, Regional Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Consultation on the Universality of the ICC, which ends today and attended by delegates from Parliamentarian for Global Action (PGA).

PGA is an international non-governmental organisation set up by members of national parliaments to advance the cause of democracy and freedom.

Currently, Asia is the least represented in the ICC, and of the 144 countries, only two countries in the Southeast Asia -- Cambodia and Timor Leste -- have ratified the Rome Statute.

ICC president Sang-Hyun Song, who delivered the keynote address at the seminar, said he believed Malaysia could lead the way for Asia with the ICC.

"As the ICC increasingly takes centre stage in the global fight against impunity and protection of the most fundamental human rights, the ratification will send a strong signal of the country's commitment to peace, justice, human rights and rule of law.

"It will provide additional protection to the nation against the gravest violations of universally recognised human rights," he added.

PGA executive councillor member Ross Robertson, from New Zealand, said PGA was hopeful that Malaysia would become a catalyst for other nations in Southeast Asia to sign and ratify the Rome Statute.

Song said the ICC was a court of last resort only when a state was unwilling or unable to carry out genuine investigation or prosecution.

He is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail today.

2011 Sees New Boom In Global Billionaires

NEW YORK, March 10 (Bernama) -- With the global economy climbing out of the worst recession in decades, both the number of billionaires and their combined wealth set fresh records in 2011, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

It was a record-breaking year for the "richest-people club," according to the Forbes Magazines 2011 billionaire list, which was announced in New York on Wednesday.

With 214 new billionaires joining Forbes' 25th annual ranking, the number of "the richest people on the planet" swelled to 1,210, the largest number since the magazine started to compile relevant data.

The total net wealth of the billionaires reached a record US$4.5 trillion, greater than Germany's gross domestic product, and up 25 percent from a year earlier.

Meanwhile, the average net worth of the billionaires added 200 million dollars to US$3.7 billion.

Among the top 20 billionaires on this year's list, all but one saw a rise in wealth from 2010.

Mexico's telecom titan Carlos Slim Helu retained the title of the richest person in the world, with a net worth of US$74 billion.

He was also the biggest gainer on the list, with a stunning US$20.5 billion increase since 2010, widening his lead over Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the second on the list, to US$18 billion.

Master investor Warren Buffett still ranked the third, with a net worth of 50 billion dollars, up 3 billion dollars from 2010.

The top three spots were unchanged from last year, while their total wealth soared from US$123.5 billion to US$180 billion in the past 12 months.

"The global billionaires this year reflect what is happening in the world economy," said Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of the Forbes Magazine. "This year the United States is still the number one in billionaires, but the lead is shrinking."

There are 413 billionaires in the United States this year, up 10 from last year's 403, but still 56 fewer than its 2008 peak.

Among all the American super rich, only 6 percent are new to the list, a much lower percentage of newcomers than in countries such as China, Russia and Brazil.

"The trend is very real. Ten years ago, American billionaires made up half of the global billionaires, a year ago, 40 percent, but this year a little more than 33 percent," Forbes said.

"Then you look at the region of Asia-Pacific, last year 234 billionaires, this year 332. So you can see the global economy is recovering, but it just not all spread across the board," he added.

However, Americans, especially younger generations, are exploring in some new arenas for getting rich. With its value more than doubled after a 1.5-billion-dollar injection brokered by Goldman Sachs in January, Facebook helped spawn five of the country's newest billionaires.

Among the "Facebook Six" on the list, the net worth of its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg soared 238 percent to US$13.5 billion, while his colleague Dustin Moskovitz replaced him as the youngest billionaire, at the age of 26, by only eight days.

Wealth creation is moving at an astonishing speed in Asia-Pacific nations, with the most newcomers to the list, for which Forbes Magazine gave the region a new nickname -- the Billionaire Factory.

The region now has a record of 332 billionaires, the most outside the United States, exceeding Europe for the first time in over a decade, and 105 of them are new.

Three quarters of these newcomers get the bulk of their fortunes from stakes in publicly traded companies, 25 of which have been public only since the start of 2010.

"China really set the tone this year," Luisa Kroll, senior editor of Forbes, told Xinhua. Chinese mainland wowed the world with a total of 115 billionaires on the list this year, nearly doubled 2010's 64.

Li Ka-shing from Hong Kong was still the richest person in China, with US$26 billion, ranking number 11 on the list, the only Chinese in the Top 20.

While Robin Li, the founder of China's biggest searching engine company Baidu, took the crown on the mainland this year thanks to the surge in the company's stock prices, with a net worth of US$9.4 billion dollars, ranking 95th.

Outgunned rebels stand up to Gadhafi onslaught

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's regime announced a large reward Wednesday for the capture of a top opposition figure, branding him "an agent spy."

Weeks ago, that opposition figure -- Mustafa Abdul-Jalil -- was the country's justice minister.

In an "urgent" banner on state television, the government said its General Administration for Criminal Investigation offers half a million Libyan dinars ($410,900 U.S.) "for whoever captures and hands over" the "agent spy" Abdul-Jalil, and "another offer of 200,000 Libyan dinars ($164,300 U.S.) for whoever offers information leading to his actual arrest."

After the uprising began February 15, Abdul-Jalil was among the government officials who broke with the regime. He went on to lead the opposition's National Transitional Council, a 31-member group representing most regions in Libya. The group has met in Benghazi, an eastern town that has become an opposition stronghold.

The move to target Abdul-Jalil came as Gadhafi fought to advance against rebels who have taken control of many parts of the country. On Wednesday, pro-Gadhafi forces launched fresh attacks on Ras Lanuf, using planes and heavy artillery in an effort to retake the eastern oil city.

Opposition fighters, armed with anti-aircraft guns and Soviet rifles, were outgunned by the heavily armed pro-Gadhafi forces, but many opposition fighters were still in the city, willing to battle to prevent Gadhafi from crushing any part of the uprising against him.

CNN's Ben Wedeman reported that an intense artillery bombardment was under way on the western edge of Ras Lanuf.

At least one oil storage tank in the western town of As-sidr was on fire, causing a massive black plume of smoke to rise over the surrounding area including Ras Lanuf, Wedeman reported.

Libyan state television reported that "armed groups supported by al Qaeda blew up an oil tank as they withdrew from Ras Lanouf against the advancing Libyan armed forces."

That message echoed what Gadhafi said in his latest defiant speech that aired Tuesday night on state television. He again insisted that youths misled and drugged by al Qaeda were to blame for the fighting. "For them, everybody's their enemy," Gadhafi said. "They know nothing other than killing."

The speech was recorded earlier Tuesday when Gadhafi addressed a youth group of tribal supporters, urging them to defend Libya from those who envy its standard of living.

"They want to take your petrol," he said. "This is what America, this is what the French, those colonialists, want."

A private Libyan aircraft crossed Greek airspace Wednesday en route to Cairo, Egypt, and the pilot said there were two passengers on board, according to Greek civil aviation authorities. The pilot did not give the identities of the passengers, aviation authorities said. Multiple media reports said the plane landed in Cairo.

The development raised questions about whether, and why, Libyan officials may have flown to Cairo.

On Tuesday, an opposition member said Gadhafi was negotiating an exit deal, but other opposition members and the government denied that.

In the fourth week of what has become a civil war, Gadhafi's regime has held on to the capital, while losing control to the opposition in some other areas. Benghazi, in eastern Libya, is an opposition stronghold.

People in some towns in the western part of the country told CNN Wednesday their areas were under rebel control. In Zuwarah, a witness said things were calm but tense, with life at a standstill. No schools, government offices, or businesses were operating. Demonstrations were no longer being held because, according to the witness, "There is no one to protest against."

In Zawiya, where intense fighting has been under way in recent days, it has generally been impossible to reach people. Reports have said communications were cut off. Residents of Zuwarah sent weapons, explosives, and medical supplies via a small boat to Zawiya, the witness said. The man who drove the boat dropped the supplies immediately upon arrival and fled out of fear.

Libyan state TV showed video of government supporters cheering in Zawiya's streets and hoisting the government flag on Wednesday.

Nalut was under opposition control and relatively calm Wednesday, a witness said. In Misrata and Ajdabiya, spokesmen for opposition groups said those towns remained under opposition control and were mostly calm as well.

Ibrahim Dabbashi, deputy U.N. ambassador from Libya who broke with Gadhafi's regime and has been supporting the protesters, renewed his call Wednesday for a U.N.-imposed no-fly zone. "It is important to have some kind of balance of power between the Libyan people and the regime," he said in an interview with CNN, calling on the international community to stop Gadhafi's "air supremacy" over the opposition.

Dabbashi said Gadhafi is "insane" and "will destroy everything to stay in power."

Fouad Ajami, a professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, said he has been communicating with worried members of rebel groups who say they need a no-fly zone over the country to prevent more casualties being inflicted by Gadhafi's forces.

"They're telling us that they can't win this fight. They're telling us patriotism is not enough," Ajami said. "That unless you have air cover and neutralize the advantages of Moammar Gadhafi, this rebellion will be crushed."

But Nicholas Burns, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, said implementing a no-fly zone is a complicated issue.

"There's no assurance that the imposition of even a no-fly zone would make a decisive difference in the battle," Burns said. "Gadhafi has ground forces. He has artillery, he has a mercenary army. That's 95 percent of the fighting under way in Libya."

The head of the U.S. Marine Corps told lawmakers Tuesday that a no-fly zone would do little to thwart Libya's helicopters, which he called "their greatest threat."

A no-fly zone would typically be enforced by fighter jets whose speed and altitude make it difficult to target helicopters, which move low and slow, said Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos.

For its part, Libya said it was not misusing its air force. Any no-fly zone would be tantamount to an act of war, Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Karim said Tuesday.

The military, he said, "are taking purely defensive positions; they are not taking offensive ones." He said the Libyan government has asked for international monitors to verify that assertion.

The protests against the 68-year-old Gadhafi began February 15 as anti-government demonstrators sought his ouster after nearly 42 years of rule. In its fourth week now, the clashes show no sign of ending.

Death toll estimates have ranged from more than 1,000 to as many as 2,000. And the war has forced out 215,000 people, many of them poor migrant workers who have been stranded at both the Tunisian and Egyptian borders, the U.N. refugee agency has said.

While many countries chartered planes and dispatched ships to whisk away their citizens to safety, those stuck at the border are sheltered in cramped, unsanitary quarters with little to eat.

The U.N. World Food Programme has initiated a $39.2 million emergency operation intended to provide food to more than one million people in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia over a three-month period.

In the latest sign of international solidarity with the Libyan opposition, a group of people entered a home in London Wednesday owned by Saif Gadhafi, the Libyan leader's son who has spoken on behalf of the regime in recent weeks. They could be seen hanging a banner out an upstairs window with a picture of Gadhafi in a red circle with a line through it.

"Out of Libya," the sign says, "Out of London." London Metropolitan police said only the situation was "being treated as a civil matter," and there were "no arrests."

Video : Terrorist links: Uthaya’s defamation suit dismissed

Interlok UMNO Racist Agenda Indian Student Arrested

Interlok: Kamalanathan steps in to resolve school controversy

Hulu Selangor MP P Kamalanathan said today he would be meeting parents and the management of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Kuala Kubu Baharu on Friday over a controversy that broke out at the school in connection with the Interlok issue on Monday.

He said he hoped the controversy could be settled amicably so that the situation at the school could revert to normal.

"I will ensure that the students at the centre of the controversy take back their text books on the Interlock novel as it is compulsory reading for the literature subject," he told Bernama today.

On Monday, several Form Five students who had tried to return the book to the school principal alleging it contained contents offensive, had claimed that a teacher had used derogatory words agaiinst them for doing so.

Kamalanthan added that he left it to the police to investigate the police reports lodged by the teacher and students respectively in the connection with the incident

- Bernama

DAP to push for debate on 'Interlok'

(Malaysiakini) The DAP plans to take issues surrounding Interlok to the people as well as to Parliament if the education minister does not withdraw the book as compulsory Form Five Malay literature reading.

"We are seekinpakatan cij parliament pc 131108 charles santiagog an urgent meeting with (Education Minister) Muhyiddin Yassin to appeal to him, one more time, to withdraw the book from the school system,” Klang MP Charles Santiago told a press conference at the Parliament lobby today.

“We will also push for an urgent motion in Parliament to discuss the book."

The party will also initiate a nationwide roadshow that will begin in Sungai Petani, Kedah, in two weeks' time and culminate in Selangor in April.

"This is to explain to all Malaysians why the book is not good (in building) national unity," he explained.

As proof of the destabilising effect of the book, Santiago pointed to an incident reported yesterday by Malaysiakini.

Seven Indian students had a confrontation with a disciplinary teacher when attempting to return the book to their school principal. Three of them were then questioned for 10 hours by police at their Kuala Kubu Baru station.

"Schools have become highly hostile environments that are detrimental to the learning process. This makes teaching and learning very difficult,” said Santiago.

“Malay teachers will have to address Indian Malaysians, and local Indian teachers will have to address Malay students on this issue. It is going to hamper the learning process.”

While the bNONEook was reportedly put in the literature list to create national unity, the reverse has happened, Santiago said, pointing to a previous incident in a school in Ampang.

Opposition to the novel and its use in schools has become a rallying cry for Indian-based NGOs, in particular the Human Rights Party, a splinter of the outlawed Hindu Rights Action Force.

It has taken to the streets and organised forums on the issue, but the police have cracked down on the activities.

Najib says no risk of sub-prime crisis in new scheme

KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today that there is no risk of the market being
. flooded by cheap loans from the new first-home ownership scheme and causing a US-style sub-prime crisis in the country.

The prime minister said in a press conference that the sub-prime crisis in the US was caused by lax lending practices and the central bank will ensure that Malaysian banks will not repeat the same mistake.

“No. That’s because they didn’t take into account the capacity of the borrowers to pay back and they were over-lending in a very irresponsible manner,” Najib replied when asked if the first-home ownership scheme will risk triggering a US-style sub-prime crisis. “In our case, there will be very tight supervision by Bank Negara.”

The government’s My First Home Scheme launched yesterday will enable young adults aged up to 35 and earning less than RM3,000 to get 100 per cent financing to buy houses worth between RM100,000 and RM220,000 with a repayment period of up to 30 years.

The US sub-prime crisis, which helped usher in the global financial crisis, was caused by the widespread availability of easy loans that were hit by high default rates once the US property bubble burst around 2007.

Low interest rates coupled with loose terms and conditions, such as no down payment, had encouraged borrowers to assume mortgages that were larger than what they were able to service once the property bubble burst.

Analysts were mixed on whether the first-home ownership scheme would risk creating sub-prime conditions.

Dr Yeah Kim Leng, chief economist at RAM Ratings said that there was little risk as the parameters for the loans — such as a maximum mortgage value of RM220,000 — are well defined unlike in the US.

“In crisis-hit countries, there was no limit,” he noted.

He added that the scheme would serve a useful social function as the cost of housing has spiralled beyond the reach of many, if not most, young adults.

He suggested, however, that the government and banks ensure that the houses bought under the scheme are by genuine buyers and not for speculative purposes.

One economic analyst told The Malaysian Insider, however, that the scheme comes with risks of a debt default crisis as a property loan is a large commitment and many young adults have trouble even handling their credit card debt.

The analyst suggested that the government look at measures to make property prices more affordable instead, rather than a 100 per cent financing scheme.

The scheme also comes at a time when household debt is at relatively high levels driven by a growth in borrowings to buy property.

Malaysia’s household debt rose 8.4 per cent from RM516.6 billion at the end of 2009 to RM560.1 billion in August 2010, according to CIMB Research.

As a percentage of GDP, household debt increased from 66.7 per cent in 2004 to 76 per cent in 2009.

The share of household loans to total bank loans, meanwhile, rose from 35.2 per cent in 2000 to 55.5 per cent in August 2010.

MB: Bkt Jalil residents’ demand impractical

SHAH ALAM: Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim feels that the residents in Ladang Bukit Jalil are getting a reasonable offer from the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

At a press conference today, Khalid, who is also Bandar Tun Razak MP, however called on DBKL to be more humane when dealing with the residents. Bukit Jalil falls under the Bandar Tun Razak parliamentary constituency.
“The placement and the monetary offer made by DBKL are quite reasonable as it is well above any normal compensation offered by others,” said Khalid.

The 41 families in the estate had been at loggerheads with DBKL since 2009 over their eviction orders. DBKL plans to construct a Muslim cemetery on the 26-acre land. Plans are also afoot for a non-Muslim cemetery.

The latest eviction notice came on March 1, after Federal Territories and Urban Well-Being Minister Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin met the residents on Feb 23 and announced that DBKL would only offer RM23,000 each to those who had worked in the rubber estate for more than 15 years and RM11,000 for the rest as compensation.

The minister then told them that the offer was final and eviction would take place whether they accepted it or not.

The residents had rejected the offer as it did not include their four-acre land demand to build low- cost houses.

Unfazed by the new eviction notices, the residents had since taken up their case with the Bar Council who had promised to get an injuction to stop the demolition work.
The Bar claimed that the new eviction notices were illegal as DBKL had not received a court order to evict them.
The residents have also submitted a memorandum to the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) to seek help and will be heading to the Parliament tomorrow to enlist the support of friendly MPs.

Khalid also expressed hope that both DBKL and the residents would continue negotiations to reach an amicable solution.

Asked what he thought about the residents’ demand for the four acres of land for housing, Khalid said their demand was unreasonable.

“It is impractical. I am certain that the property owner has already planned something with the 26-acre land,” he added.

No support for Palanivel’s ‘back-to-the-estate’ call

A proposal by MIC president for poor Indians to return to the estates for a better living did not sit well with many, including the party's Youth chief.

PUTRAJAYA: The call by MIC president G Palanivel for members of the Indian community, who are mired in hardships in town and cities, to work in the plantation sector, including in estates owned by government-linked companies, received little support from the community.

Palanivel, who is Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister, had said that the government had agreed to a minimum wage of about RM700 a month for the sector, compared to RM300 previously, and that they would also enjoy free housing as well as free transportation for students in estate areas.

However Palanivel’s proposal seemed to have come unstuck among his own party leaders.

MIC Youth chief T Mohan said working in estates would not guarantee a bright future for the community.

The government should instead provide a Felda-like land development scheme for the community, he said.

“RM700 is too small but if there are plans for a Felda-like scheme, then we have no problem agreeing to it because it will help create entrepreneurs among the Indian community,” he said.

He added that many members of the community had ventured out of estates and that it was not proper to ask them to come back.

Unsuitable for most

Indian studies lecturer at the University of Malaya, Prof Dr M Rajentheran said the call was only suitable for the unskilled, those who had no permanent jobs or those who were unable to cope with urban living.

They might consider coming back to the estates if the salary was increased to RM1,200 a month, he said.

Malaysian Indian Youth Council president A Rajaratnam said the call was no longer relevant in the country’s increasingly competitive development sector.

“The minimum wage should be increased to RM1,200 a month and they should also be given allowances. A husband and wife will then be able to earn about RM3,000 a month. If this happens, I myself will encourage them to work in estates,” he said.

A former estate worker A Rajeswari, 38, said she would not return to the estate even if the salary was increased to RM900 a month.

“I have three children … where can I find tuition and music classes in estates?” she Rajeswari, who now works as a cleaner here.

- Bernama

[pix sourced from Internet]

Pakatan leaders maligned in Umno document

PKR lodges police report against Taman Rasa Sayang Umno branch in Senawang for seditious statements and pictures fanning racial tensions

SEREMBAN: The Taman Rasa Sayang Umno branch in Senawang under the Rembau division earned the ire of Pakatan Rakyat for instigating tensions between the Malays and Chinese.


Rembau PKR secretary, Norazizi Abdul Aziz, said an eight-page document appended to the minutes of the Umno’s division annual meeting contains seditious statements and pictures maligning Pakatan leaders.


“The contents of the document, dated March 5, is seditious and designed to instigate racial tensions among the Malays and the Chinese in Pakatan,” said Norazizi after lodging a police report at the district police headquarters here.


Titled “Pendedahan Untuk Kesedaran” it has a picture of DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang under a sub-heading heading which reads: “DAP Anti Islam” and the words “Ketuanan Rakyat” (proposed by Pakatan Rakyat) was changed to “Ketuanan Cina”.


Another picture shows Kit Siang delivering a speech and the caption reads: “Kita hapuskan hak Melayu, kita tolak Islam! Mari bersama kami, PAS, PKR dan DAP”
PKR’s de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim is portrayed as a No 1 liar and branded as a traitor of the Malays, Muslims and the nation.


Disrespecting the King
Kelantan Menteri Besar and PAS spiritual leader Nik Aziz was not spared either.


A caricature depicts Taiping MP and former Perak exco member Nga Kor Ming as an imam leading a prayer session with Nik Aziz and Anwar behind Kor Ming.


The prayer rug used by Muslims called “sejadah” has the DAP logo on it. Nik Aziz and Anwar are caricatured on prayer rugs with their respective party logos.


Rembau PAS chief, Mohd Taufek Abdul Ghani, slammed Umno for showing disrespect to King’s speech at the opening of the new parliament session Monday, where he said narrow racial sentiments must be nipped in the bud before they festered in the community.


Mohd Taufek urged Umno not to resort to cheap and dangerous tactics to divide the races.
The Umno meeting was officiated by Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar who is also the Rembau Umno chief.

‘Saiful told me there was penetration’

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today heard how Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan had confided in a medical expert about being allegedly sodomised by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Hospital Sungai Buloh’s forensic pathologist Dr Razuin Rahimi, the prosecution’s 23rd witness, said that during the interview with Saiful, the latter told her that he did not consent to the sexual act.

Razuin, who was a medical officer with Hospital Kuala Lumpur during that period in 2008, said the interview lasted for about 20 minutes.

According to Saiful, the witness said, there was penetration and lubricant used.

“He fondled Saiful’s breasts,” she said, adding that Saiful had also told her that he had objected to performing oral sex on Anwar.

The prosecution later showed the doctor the pro-forma forms, to which Razuin said that she filled in pages 3, 5 and 6.

Lead prosecutor Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden then quizzed her on the meaning of “rectal attempted” stated on page 5.

“Saiful said there was anal intercourse, however the rectum is located above the anus, and the word is confusing. At that moment, I do not know whether it reached the rectum.”

“He ejaculated inside. Penetration, I noted full as I got it from Saiful,” she said, adding that she wrote “employer” as the alleged assailant in the form.

Saiful was Anwar’s former personal aide. He accused the opposition leader of sodomising him in a condominium in Bukit Damansara here on June 26, 2008.
During cross-examination by Anwar’s lead counsel Karpal Singh, Razuin denied that rectal sex amounted to sodomy.

Razuin: Rectal is below, anus is the top.
Karpal: To get to rectal, you have to go through anus. For sodomy you have to go through anus?
Razuin: Yes.

The doctor said she was unsure whether the penetration did reach the rectum and that was the reason why she had jotted “yes” to “rectal attempted” in the pro-forma.

Just an errand boy

The prosecution also called Ibrahim Yaakob, Anwar’s chief of staff, to the witness stand.

Ibrahim explained that Saiful had not been an employee of Anwar’s, but merely a temporary staff who ran errands and did general office work.

Ibrahim said that on June 26, 2008 – the day of the alleged sodomy, he had asked Saiful to deliver an envelope to Anwar.

The next day, the witness added, Saiful tendered his resignation via email, saying that he was inadequate and could not perform his duties.

“Saiful’s duties are that of a general office worker. I normally ask him to run errands.”
Ibrahim said Saiful also claimed that he wished to become a pilot.

The prosecution also called Road Transport Department registrar Ahmad Junaidi Awang to clarify the ownership and license plate numbers of seven vehicles, including one which belonged to Anwar.

These vehicles were seen at the condominium in Bukit Damansara where the alleged offence took place.
The trial will resume tomorrow before Judge Zabidin Mohamed Diah, with investigating officer DSP Jude Pereira taking the stand.